All are accomplices in the crime

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All are accomplices in the crime

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Kim Hyun-suk, the mother of a middle school girl with a severe developmental disability, sent me a letter in which she discussed what she, as the parent of a disabled child, would like to tell “people who are furious after watching the movie ‘Dogani.’ ”

She asks if people understand the parents’ decision to send their children to a special or boarding school.

Her letter continued: “We hope our children can study alongside their nondisabled peers, not at a facility that poses a risk of abuse and harassment. I want my child to stay in the neighborhood, ride the bus and subway, and be free to visit supermarkets and bakeries.”

But the reality is very harsh. State-sponsored facilities offer a better environment but have strict qualifications and a long waiting list. So the parents are left with no other choice but to send their children to facilities in remote places separate from local communities.

“Each day is a battle to teach my child how to live with other people,” wrote Kim. “But what is the use of educating and preparing her for 20 years? What will my child do after I die? The answer is simple. There is no solution.”

Another heinous crime was reported yesterday, but this one was about a 21-year-old mentally-challenged woman in Jangheung, South Jeolla. Her father had moved her back to her hometown 10 years ago, thinking that it would be a better place for her because she couldn’t ride the bus by herself. But it was discovered that her neighbors raped her repeatedly as she had walked to school from home. The offenders were close to the victim’s family, and some of them were relatives. This case is the most heinous, disgusting form of crime.

Kim asked how local residents could oppose the construction of facilities for the disabled, protesting that it would affect real estate prices. She said that people’s resistance implies that they do not want to live alongside the disabled.

Though the Inhwa School has been shut down and the screening of “Dogani” has ended, it doesn’t mean that discrimination and abuse of the disabled have disappeared. You may want to blame the Inhwa School for all faults, but we are all responsible for neglecting the conditions of the disabled. Condemning the Inhwa School and punishing a few offenders cannot clear our collective conscience. We are all accomplices in the crime.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


By Noh Jae-hyun
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